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BlackBerry Torch fails to ignite in US

RIM's much-heralded touchscreen saviour, complete with a new BlackBerry OS, is already beset by reports of poor sales in the US

In a hint of what might happen when we see it over here, the BlackBerry Torch's US debut has opened with an overwhelming feeling of 'meh'. Early indications are the best you could say about sales of RIM's new device is they were 'mixed', with Goldman Sachs calling sales "underwhelming".

The Wall Street Journal quoted analysts who estimated 150,000 Torch handsets were sold in the US over the weekend. This may sound like a huge number, but you have to compare this with the 1.7 million iPhone 4s sold in its opening weekend.

RIM is already on the defensive, claiming the $100 Amazon offered the device for (compared to $200 from AT&T) was not a sign it was already failing, but simply common online pricing and promotional strategy.

RIM was expected to pull out all the stops to make a touchscreen gadget good enough to compete with Apple and Android. It also has the much-trumpeted new BlackBerry 6 OS, which looks like a significant move towards touchscreen and away from the traditional Qwerty device we're so used to from RIM.

According to the analyst iSuppli, which took the Torch 9800 apart to look at what it was made of, the cost of the device's parts at $170.05 was less than the $187.51 of parts that make up the iPhone 4.

More telling though was that while RIM may have delivered new features such as a capacitive touchscreen, optical trackpad and slider Qwerty keyboard, internally it wasn't that much of a jump from what RIM had done before.

iSuppli said, "On the inside, the Torch's electronic design heavily leverages subsystems used in previous members of the BlackBerry smart phone line, specifically the Storm 2 and the Bold 9700."

The suggestion is that RIM has built a device to match the competition rather than overtake them, but we'll reserve judgement until we have a full review.